Treaties and Agreements

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 1, 2010


Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) allow generally for the exchange of evidence and information in criminal and ancillary matters. In money laundering cases, they can be extremely useful as a means of obtaining banking and other financial records from our treaty partners. MLATs, which are negotiated by the Department of State in cooperation with the Department of Justice to facilitate cooperation in criminal matters, including money laundering and asset forfeiture, are in force with the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominica, Egypt, Estonia, France, France with respect to its overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique) and collectivities (French Polynesia and Saint Martin), Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Netherlands with respect to its Caribbean overseas territories (Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles), Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom with respect to its Caribbean overseas territories (Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands), Uruguay and Venezuela. The United States also has agreements in place for cooperation in criminal matters with Hong Kong (SAR) and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Mutual legal assistance agreements have been signed by the United States but not yet brought into force with the European Union and the following countries: Bermuda, Bulgaria, and Colombia. The United States is actively engaged in negotiating additional MLATs with countries around the world. The United States has also signed and ratified the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance of the Organization of American States, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, and the Vienna Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.


In addition to MLATs, the United States has entered into executive agreements on forfeiture cooperation, including: (1) an agreement with the United Kingdom providing for forfeiture assistance and asset sharing in narcotics cases; (2) a forfeiture cooperation and asset sharing agreement with the Kingdom of the Netherlands; and (3) a drug forfeiture agreement with Singapore. The United States has asset sharing agreements with Canada, the Cayman Islands (which was extended to Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands), Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, and Monaco.

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or an exchange of letters in place with other financial intelligence units (FIUs) to facilitate the exchange of information between FinCEN and the respective country’s FIU. FinCEN has an MOU or an exchange of letters with the FIUs in Albania, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Guatemala, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, Moldova, the Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the Money Laundering Prevention Commission of Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

Asset Sharing

Pursuant to the provisions of U.S. law, including 18 U.S.C. § 981(i), 21 U.S.C. § 881(e)(1)(E), and 31 U.S.C. § 9703(h)(2), the Departments of Justice, State, and Treasury have aggressively sought to encourage foreign governments to cooperate in joint investigations of narcotics trafficking and money laundering, offering the possibility of sharing in forfeited assets. A parallel goal has been to encourage spending of these assets to improve narcotics-related law enforcement. The long-term goal has been to encourage governments to improve asset forfeiture laws and procedures so they will be able to conduct investigations and prosecutions of narcotics trafficking and money laundering, which include asset forfeiture. To date, the Bahamas, Canada, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have shared forfeited assets with the United States.

From 1989 through October 2009, the international asset sharing program, administered by the Department of Justice, shared $230,096,118 with 36 foreign governments that cooperated and assisted in the investigations. In 2009, the Department of Justice transferred $499,913.50 in forfeited proceeds to the Bahamas. Prior recipients of shared assets include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Hungary, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Israel, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands Antilles, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

From Fiscal Year (FY) 1994 through FY 2009, the international asset-sharing program administered by the Department of Treasury shared $28,820,878 with foreign governments that cooperated and assisted in successful forfeiture investigations. In FY 2009, the Department of Treasury transferred $795,209 in forfeited proceeds to Canada ($419,465), Republic of China ($10,200), Switzerland ($352,662), and the Republic of Vietnam ($12,882). Prior recipients of shared assets include: Aruba, Australia, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guernsey, Honduras, Isle of Man, Jersey, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.